“I would say that the ritual begins when I meet an object that I gather and bring to the studio”, writes Manuele Cerutti in relation to the development of his artistic narrative, “there is a steady collecting process; we take a census of things that are somehow already talking to us”.
Cerutti’s focus on the relationship between the inert object and the human body within his work functions as a dialectic. This relationship suggests that the object within the painting is not reliant on the physical presence of the human within the work in order to lend it meaning.
The connection between the material object and the physical body allows Cerutti to explore the depth of subjectivity, spatiality and identity. However, the object is not given meaning through its interaction with the character. The viewer is then required to question, “what is the meaning of this sign and is the meaning fixed?”
In Pensiero Di Orfeo (2012), Cerutti uses the central image of a young girl carrying a heavy blanket of satin or silk. Within this painting the object is the dominant proponent working to defamiliarise the image of the girl. The contrasting colours and brushstrokes are juxtaposed and threaten to overwhelm the presence of the subject. The object allows for diachronic imaging through his work; through the object he turns towards the past and historical myths, as is emphasised through the title of the piece.
Affermazioni I and Affermazioni III (2011-2012) again implement the object as a tool to explore spatial awareness, subjectivity, functionality and the transience of identity. Cerutti places the object and subject in strange relations with one another, destabilising both at once. The works appear almost comically tense through the destabilisation of the composition being carried out.
Manuele Cerutti creates a series of networks, providing the viewer with a multi-faceted sense of the object’s presence and being. He suggests the reversal of traditional values by letting the objects carry such weight and meaning within the works, a dynamic that recalls the relationship between the artist and the audience, and questions who has the power to create meaning through interpretation.
Perhaps also the readability of the sign is enhanced through Cerutti’s use of artistic medium. His use of naturalistic portrayal of both object and subject allows of uninhibited access to the meaning of the anthropomorphic tendencies of the inanimate matter.
Manuele Cerutti’s works live in the intersection of art history and the rediscovering of the nature of objects. His objects are laden with meaning and mimetic memories such that they become more than inanimate ephemera, and in turn reinvent the idea of mere still life of the object into a more nuanced understanding of the portraiture genre.